July 7, 2017
Rural Manitoba shouldn’t have to settle for second-class health care: Lamont
WINNIPEG - The PCs decision to shut down rural ambulance services should be scrapped said Dougald Lamont, who is running for the leadership of the Manitoba Liberal Party.
Lamont said he could not understand why, given the NDP’s questionable record managing Manitoba’s health care, that the Pallister government would rubber-stamp recommendations to gut rural health services, developed under the Selinger NDP. The announcement to shutter and relocate emergency services was previously announced by NDP Health Minister Theresa Oswald.
Lamont said the NDP/PC’s shortsighted health cuts seem focused on what is convenient for the health care bureaucracy in Winnipeg, rather than the patients the system is supposed to serve.
Lamont said cuts in rural communities across Manitoba has long-term impacts on health, safety and the economy.
“No matter where you live in Manitoba, access to quality health care isn’t just about good government, it is also about economic development,” said Lamont. “People want to live, work and invest in communities where they know they can get good public services, especially health care. These cuts undermine our communities.”
Most of the closures are happening in the Prairie / Mountain area. Lamont’s family has owned a farm in the area for more than 40 years, and one of the closest communities, Rossburn, is being hardest hit.
Lamont says that the report recommending closures is wrong in describing Rossburn as a “low volume call station.” and that Rossburn is responsible for more primary calls than any of the other surrounding communities.
Lamont said the critical need for the ambulance service was driven home for him on a visit to the community not long after a major blizzard this spring. A local business owner told him a woman in labor had to be taken by ambulance from Rossburn to Russell led by a snowplow - a 45-minute trip in hazardous conditions with zero visibility. If the ambulance in Rossburn were cancelled, it could require 90-minute round trips from Shoal Lake or Russell.
“Rural Manitobans and First Nations shouldn’t have to put up with second-class care,” said Lamont, “Pallister may plead poverty, but it’s hard to take him seriously when he is cutting Manitobans’ health care while voting himself a raise and a tax cut.”
Pallister and the PC Cabinet voted to change Manitoba’s balanced budget law, so he could continue to run a deficit but avoid a pay cut - effectively voting themselves a 20% pay increase.